The Education secretary addressed a D.C. audience from a wheelchair on Wednesday, when Betsy DeVos said she's recovering from a bicycle accident that happened last month. Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event about a D.C. scholarship program, DeVos said she won't be able to walk without a walker or wheelchair for months.
"It was a very painful injury," DeVos told the crowd. "I still have some pain, but it's getting better. The worst part about it is that I can't put weight on my left leg for three months. So I'm learning to navigate around with a walker and obviously I inherited my father's wheelchair."
News of DeVos' accident first broke on Jan. 4 when the Department of Education announced that she was recovering from a surgery she'd undergone the day before. Two weeks later, DeVos made it clear just how serious her injuries were during her first public appearance after the incident at another D.C. event. She announced then that she'd broken her pelvis and hip socket in the accident.
"I was ejected rather forcefully from my bike and landed squarely on my left hip and broke my pelvis in three places and my hip socket," DeVos further clarified on Wednesday.
DeVos has been less active on Twitter during her recovery period, but she's hard at work behind the scenes. The secretary was in contact with the Education Department every day in the aftermath of the surgery, The New York Times reported. Education Press Secretary Liz Hill told The Hill on Jan. 17 that DeVos had returned to the office full time. Noting that the cycling accident had occurred during the holidays, Hill added that she was now "doing well."
The Heritage Foundation president praised DeVos' perseverance on Wednesday. "I think it sends a positive, wonderful message that you cannot keep a good woman down," Kay Coles James said.
"Absolutely not," the education secretary responded.
James gushed when she presented DeVos, saying, "We are so grateful for your presence today," calling her "our dear friend," and adding that "we all love you and wish you well."
"I would've leaped up and given you a hug to thank you for that introduction," DeVos replied.
During her speech, DeVos praised school choice, a movement that bolsters programs that fund students to go to schools of their own choosing instead of their assigned public school. Critics of school choice argue that it involves too little accountability, allows students to avoid aspects of education that should be standardized, and contributes to segregation. This week marks National School Choice Week.
DeVos argued that the public is in favor of school choice and that teachers' unions are the main barrier standing in the way of more programs being adopted. She's criticized unions many times before.
Teachers' unions are in the news a lot this month as they plan and stage strikes around the country. On Tuesday, a boycott in Los Angeles ended with the city giving in to many of the teachers' demands. Denver educators voted to begin their own strike on the same day. DeVos has criticized such strikes in the past, though she's been relatively quiet about these latest actions, perhaps because of her injury.